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School governors

(20 Posts)
JessM Tue 09-Jul-13 13:46:36

This interesting case highlights the weaknesses of the "let every school be an academy or a free school and manage itself" movement. If this can happen in an LA school, what scope is there for mis-management in less accountable schools?
A well managed school requires a competent and professional leadership team (head, deputies, bursar), a competent and professional governing body to act as a balance and do regular monitoring of finance and check that procedures being followed and an independent auditor (LA or other) to ensure that public money is not being mis-spent like this.
In all my time as governor (12 yrs was it..?) I never remember anyone claiming for expenses... although they should feel able to if they need to e.g. babysitting or fuel to attend a meeting etc.
Having a chair of governors living abroad is IMO ludicrous.

Mishap Tue 09-Jul-13 14:00:08

Indeed JessM it is quite ridiculous that the chair of governors should live abroad - how does he attend the committees that he should be on, or deal with complaints from a distance? - or indeed make regular visits to the school as governors are required to do.

I have just been printing out stuff for a giovernors' meeting on Thursday so picked up on your post. I had just been thinking what a mammoth task it was and how important that people should make a real commitment - it sounds as though this chap cannot see this. Time to get rid of him I think.

annodomini Tue 09-Jul-13 14:17:28

I felt guilty about moving to live just a couple of miles outside the LEA boundary while I was still chair of governors of a primary school. Can't this man and his governing body see that there is something very wrong in his expat status? He needs to go.

FlicketyB Wed 10-Jul-13 08:27:03

How can he fulfil his proper role as Chairman of Governors when he is only around for meetings? I know there is email and all the rest but to do the job properly you need to be keeping your finger on the pulse of the school, which means being around for school events, talking to parents informally, nipping in now and again to see the school in action, chat to the teachers. And what if there is a sudden emergency, anything from an out of control car crashing though the perimeter fence in playtime to a fire out of hours when a statement from the chairman of governors and his presence there is needed to show solidarity with teachers and pupils?

grannyactivist Wed 10-Jul-13 13:18:31

If it had been April 1st I would not be surprised to read this article - but it beggars belief to discover it's true. shock

Mishap Wed 10-Jul-13 17:57:33

It is bizarre thathe local authority had allowed it to continue - but maybe it is an academy. And you would have thought the school community - other governors, teaching staff and parents - would have had something to say about it. Can't imagine how this has been allowed to continue and has only been challeneged when he put in a silly travel claim.

Nelliemoser Wed 10-Jul-13 18:19:24

This situation beggar's belief. I wonder if their were any rules in place to actually stop him from doing this though if he had been fairly elected.

The theoretical possibility of crony networks operating in such situations as this is not just my imagination.
Encourage a governor or two to get your child into a particular school by making a generous donation? Surely this could not happen in our green and pleasant land!
I make no suggestion it did in this situation I hasten to add. Before anyone contacts Libel Lawyers 4U

JessM Wed 10-Jul-13 18:19:24

Not an academy. LA controlled. Unless there is some kind of emergency LA does not concern itself with governors I found.
The only time they stuck their oar in with me was when a member of staff (probably) made an anonymous and malicious complaint to Ofsted about running of the school. And then only because ofsted contacted them rather than me. They audited accounts system as well, which is probably how this surfaced. Rest of governors must have kept voting this guy in every year!

nanaej Wed 10-Jul-13 18:24:59

It is a foundation school. The governance of which is slightly different and such schools are less aligned to LAs.

nanaej Wed 10-Jul-13 18:37:28

And anyway LAs carry out random audits which is maybe how this came to light! LAs do not pay governors' direct it will come from the school's delegated budget and it is the governors who set the budget..... the HT and bursar must have known about this too. They may have raised objections but been over ruled by other govs.

Academy & free schools will have no links with anyone other than DfES.

JessM Wed 10-Jul-13 19:13:04

Yes if I remember rightly foundation is a slightly arms length relationship with the LA but the money still comes through LA. But governors have a bit more power. We did not really notice much difference when we became foundation.

annodomini Wed 10-Jul-13 19:23:31

It's sadly true that in some cases Chairs of Governors are re-elected by their fellows because none of them want to take over the job, though in that school, it can hardly be seen to be very onerous.

nanaej Thu 11-Jul-13 16:42:55

I have met a very few chars of governors who have been very manipulative and sometimes bullying.. mostly they have been excellent and very committed to the kids and school . But the bad ones can make it difficult for others to stand for the post by being a bit intimidating.

I once was an a governing body with a local councillor, one Teresa May!

glammanana Fri 12-Jul-13 08:37:54

nanaej how I agree with regards to some who are intimidating,my youngerst 2 DGCs attend a Church School and DD has put herself forward to be considered for positions that have become vacant either on the Governors Board or within the school as a teaching assistant,she is fully CRB checked and has had all the 6 children go through the school but she does not seem able to break into "the clique",what I do find strange is that the children and DD attend all school fundraising events but gets no further,the older members of the board do not tend to take to people with opinions that are more up to date than their own

nanaej Fri 12-Jul-13 09:12:41

glamma there should be elections for parent governors whn a vacancy occurs and if she is the only candidate she should simply have an interview with the chair to discuss her suitability (time availabilty, fully understand the role etc) and then if s/he thinks your daughter knows which way is up she can become a governor. If she thinks there are any irregularities going on she needs to write formally to the Chair and express her concerns.

annodomini Fri 12-Jul-13 09:19:22

I had confidence in our young, enthusiastic and knowledgeable parent governors (all women) and was able to hand over the chair, knowing it would be in the best of hands.

Mishap Fri 12-Jul-13 10:54:46

Parent governors are elected; LA governors are appointed by the LA; community and other governors are chosen by the existing governors so the old boy/girl network can come into play here.

The job of school governors has become far more onerous - especially as OfSted interview them when they inspect and that expect them to give a good documented account of how they are functioning - challenging the head, ensuring that targets are met etc. A school can be downgraded on its inspection if the governors fail to come up to scratch.

I am trying very hard to move our governing body on from the chummy old boy network to something a bit more professional - it is a bit like stirring treacle! But I have managed to get some key people onto the board and hopefully they will help move things forward.

The school with the chair abroad would be well and truly clobbered by OfSted at the next inspection - and quite right too.

JessM Fri 12-Jul-13 11:00:54

Yes they would be clobbered with the v short notice given by ofsted these days. Good point.
I remember when i was first a governor and thought "this reminds me of the vicar of dibley".
I asked the advice of someone who had been a governor elsewhere about improving things and she said "Oh well just keep socialising with them" hmm

glammanana Fri 12-Jul-13 13:00:12

nanaej thanks for that information I will tell my Angie to-morrow,there have been a few vacancies over the past couple of years but I'm sure there have been more than one candidate each time.thanks

annodomini Fri 12-Jul-13 13:31:01

My children never gave me the letters from school telling parents about parent-governor elections. I became an LEA governor later on, but not in their school. I should have searched their bags more diligently.